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TCC's Best Car to Buy 2011: Green Cars

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Whatever your color of politics might be, red or blue, there's little doubt you've been teased by the notion of green cars.

Environmentally concerned drivers want the same thing as security hawks: to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Though they get to the same place from different starting points, both factions are clearly turning their eyes, and their dollars, to green cars of all kinds, from hybrids, to electric cars, to everything in between.

TheCarConnection's Best Car to Buy 2011 award will pick one vehicle from among the 40 new or significantly revised cars, crossovers, SUVs and minivans to hit the road this model year. And for our inaugural award, the list of green cars counts almost every kind of low-emissions technology on the market, save for diesels.

For this short list, we've included nearly every new green car that has an eye to cutting fuel consumption, by any means possible. A total of five vehicles make that cut, and also carry a base price of less than $50,000; have been road-tested by our editors; will be offered for sale by January 31, 2011. 

Our full road tests of each of these vehicles revealed the technology tweaks that produce strikingly different green vehicles. The Nissan Leaf is the first mass-market electric car, running on battery power alone; the MKZ Hybrid, CR-Z and Lexus CT 200h run on a blend of gas and electric power; and the Chevy Volt primarily drives its wheels with electric power, though it can blend in gas-engine-generated power in limited circumstances.

Are any of these radical cars of the future, the best car to buy today? You'll find out soon, as High Gear Media will be handing out our Best Car to Buy 2011 awards next week, during the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show media days. You can follow the build-up here at TheCarConnection, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter @CarConnection #BestCarToBuy.

Until then, here's the list of green-car nominees, with our judges' notes:

2011 Chevrolet Volt: A blend of electric-car efficiency and gas-engine peace of mind, the 2011 Volt makes a uniquely American appeal to green-car fans.

2011 Honda CR-Z: Honda resurrects the ghost, if not the spirit, of the beloved CRX in an Insightful spin-off.

2011 Lexus CT 200h: The littlest Lexus is also its most fuel-efficient, and most sprightly, hybrid offering.

2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid: Like its Ford Fusion sibling, the MKZ Hybrid marshals outstanding city fuel economy, and layers on a rich-feeling interior.

2011 Nissan Leaf: A game-changing pure electric car for the masses, the Leaf carries an in-touch base price after tax credits, and makes for an undeniable call to action for earth lovers everywhere.

 
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